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Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith (1764-1840)


Object connections:

Collection Sculpture
User collections Collectables (All) by blueheatwave
Collectables (UK) by blueheatwave
Gallery locationUpper Deck (Floor plans)
PeopleDepiction: Smith, William Sidney

Object details:

Object ID SCU0051
Description Over life-size marble statue, the sitter bare-headed, facing forwards but looking and imperiously pointing slightly down to his right with extended right arm. His left arm stretches back behind to support him on one of several pieces of ruined masonry and his left leg rests, stepping up, on another to his front left. An exploded gun breech lies by his right foot and a canon shot is realistically embedded in the front of the slightly uneven paved surface on which he stands, and which forms the square base of the piece. Smith is shown here at the defence of Acre in 1799, in captain's uniform, with epaulettes, his coat embroidered with the Swedish Royal Order of the Sword, and with a handkerchief knotted loosely round his neck. He wears calf-high boots over tight trousers and a Mameluke pattern curved sabre from a sword belt with two lion heads in the clasps. Having been an enterprising frigate captain early in the French Wars of 1793-1815 (and enduring a period of captivity), Smith became a controversial squadron commander in the Mediterranean where he showed a genius for working with irregular forces, much helped by his talent for languages. His greatest feat was his defence of Acre (Syria) against Napoleon's siege in 1799, with a motley Levantine garrison and using the guns he had previously captured from Napoleon's siege train. He was not popular with many superiors, being in many ways a maverick with influential political connections, but was undoubtedly brave, resourceful and successful in many situations that required unusual talents. Napoleon later remarked of him, rather than Nelson or any other British commander, 'that man made me miss my destiny'. Typically perhaps, he found France more congenial than England and retired to Paris. His well-preservd tomb is in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. This piece is signed 'T. KIRK R.H.A. / Sculpt. / DUBLIN' and was commissioned by the House of Commons as a national monument with SCU0041 and SCU0048. It is Kirk's last major work and one of his best, though the best known was his statue of Nelson on the 'pillar' in Dublin, destroyed by the IRA in 1966. On completion it was shipped to Greenwich where it was officially received in July 1845 and installed in the Naval Gallery in the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital.
Date made 1845

Artist/Maker Kirk, Thomas
Place made Dublin
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Materials marble
Measurements 2032 x 1118 mm
  • Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith (1764-1840) (SCU0051)
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